Every year, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducts a survey of employers to find out the most popular benefits offered. While seventy percent of organizations maintained healthcare benefits at existing levels and the health insurance plan most frequently offered in 2019 — the PPO — was basically unchanged from 2018, there were notable differences in other benefits companies are providing. If you want to benchmark your program to see how you stack up, here are some of the top trends for 2019.

  • Educational Help Grew: The percentage of businesses offering student loan repayment assistance increased from 4 to 8% in 2019 and tuition assistance for undergraduate or graduate school increased from 51 to 56%.
  • Alternative Treatment Coverage Dropped: Chiropractic coverage decreased from 80 to 75% while acupressure/acupuncture coverage dropped from 47 to 39%.
  • Credit Counseling Surged: This year, 18% of companies offered a credit counseling service for employees, up from 10% in 2018.
  • Fertility Benefits Decreased: Coverage for in-vitro fertilization is down from 27 to 19% and other infertility treatment coverage decreased from 25 to 18%.
  • 401(k) Auto Enrollment Increased: More employers – 42 compared to 38% last year – are auto-enrolling new employees into defined contribution plans in an effort to boost participation and the same feature increased for current employees as well, up to 22% from 20%.
  • Pet Benefits Rose: Embracing the pet-friendly trend, the percentage of companies allowing pets at work grew to 11% this year up from 9% and pet health insurance is offered by 15% of organizations compared to 11% last year.
  • Professional Support Declined: The amount of companies covering the cost of professional memberships dropped from 87 to 83% and those covering professional license application or renewal fees fell from 75 to 71%.
  • Telemedicine Hit Record Highs: In just two years, the percentage of employers offering telemedicine or telehealth increased from 34 to 72%.
  • Wellness Benefits Varied: Many wellness benefits were relatively unchanged from last year but there were increases in certain areas, like 60% of employers now offer a standing desk, up from 53% last year, and the number of companies offering a health premium discount for participating in wellness increased to 31%, the highest figure in five years.
  • Flexibility Continued to Increase: Forty-two percent of companies now allow telecommuting on a part-time basis, up from 37% last year, and 27% allow it on a full-time basis, while 32% of employers offer a compressed workweek compared to 27% last year.
  • Family Leave Rose: Twenty-two percent of companies now offer family leave above federal FMLA leave, compared to 16% last year, and 19% offer family leave above state levels, up from 14% in 2018.

For assistance designing a plan that works for you and your employees, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 877.253.9020.

5 Steps to FLSA Compliance

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) specifies standards for minimum wage and overtime pay as well as restricts the age when children can begin working. It requires employers to pay covered employees who are not otherwise exempt at least the federal minimum wage and overtime after 40 hours of work in a workweek of one-and-one-half-times their regular rate of pay.

While complying with these provisions of the law may seem straightforward, there are several nuances that make it a bit more complex. To stay fine-free, keep in mind the following:

  1. Know Who’s Covered: The FLSA covers employees of enterprises engaged in interstate commerce whose annual gross volume of sales is not less than $500,000 or those engaged in the operation of a hospital or other healthcare institution, school or government agency. Even if businesses aren’t considered covered enterprises, employees may still be subject to the FLSA’s standards if they are individually engaged in interstate commerce—even by simply regularly using the phone to contact people in other states.
  2. Understand Exempt and Non-Exempt: The primary reason behind enactment of the FLSA was to create two employee classifications for wage and overtime provisions – exempt and non-exempt – based on factors such as compensation and the manner in which it’s paid and the duties performed. Because exemptions are narrowly defined, check the exact terms and conditions for each since classifying correctly is critical or you risk back wages, fines and even possible criminal prosecution.
  3. Review State Laws: Some states have enacted legislation that differs from what the FLSA requires, such as higher minimum wage standards than the federal level of $7.25/hour and greater overtime obligations. If an employee is subject to both state and federal laws, be sure to comply with whichever law as the stricter provisions.
  4. Post Prominently: Under the FLSA, employers are required to display an official poster that outlines the provisions of the FLSA. The most recent version, which is currently required, can be downloaded here or obtained at no cost from the Wage and Hour Division directly or a local office.
  5. Keep Records: Under the FLSA, employers must keep records for each non-exempt worker that include certain identifying information and data on wages, hours and other items. Most of the information is already maintained by employers, and for purposes of the FLSA, it doesn’t need to be kept in any particular form or separately. Payroll records must be kept for three years while those on which wage computations are based must be retained for two.

New rules regarding overtime exemptions may be coming next year. To find out what you need to do to comply with the FLSA’s existing requirements and prepare for upcoming changes, join Complete Payroll Solutions for a free webinar on September 18 at 1 p.m. Register here.

This week is National Payroll Week, and the annual event marks a perfect time to look at the latest trends in paychecks so you can make sure you’re offering employees the best options to keep morale high. Here are some recent payroll developments that are shaping workplaces today.

  • Paycards: These reloadable pre-paid cards onto which employers deposit an employee’s wages can be used by workers to make purchases, withdraw cash and even pay bills, increasing their popularity over paychecks and direct deposit. Read our blog to find out more.
  • Mobile Pay: Instead of requiring access to a bank account, some employers today are giving employees access to their pay from their phones or smart watches through digital accounts like Venmo where employees deposit wages.
  • Instant Payments: While contractors pioneered the demand for instant payments via services like PayPal, same-day pay is becoming more popular among hourly employees as well who want to be paid as soon as possible after their shift.
  • Personalized Pay Schedules: Instead of every other Friday, some tools allow employees to pick which day of the week they get paid or get early access to funds. Walmart is just one company that allows employees to drawdown on their salary ahead of time up to eight times for free.

Identifying new methods for employees to receive and manage wages can go a long way to making them feel you’re aligned with their desire for quicker and more convenient access to pay – boosting satisfaction in the process.

To learn about our payroll solutions, Contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 866.658.8800.

Open enrollment season is just around the corner. And it’s probably no surprise that many employees feel tense during this time. In fact, one study said 21 percent of workers are stressed when selecting benefits and 20 percent feel anxious.

To alleviate the pain of this annual event, communication is key. From questions about their contributions to out-of-pocket expenses, it’s essential to clarify details so employees can understand their options and pick the right plan for their needs and budget.

While traditional outreach can be valuable, many companies are making things even easier on workers through the use of open enrollment technology. Here are some ways it can help.

  • Personalized Messages: You can create specific messages for employees so that they know exactly what they need to review and acknowledge to complete the process when they sign onto the system.
  • Cost Analysis: The systems enable employees to compare expenses between plan options, taking the guesswork out of their potential spending for the year.
  • Reminder Alerts: To ensure employees meet strict deadlines, you can schedule email alerts that prompt workers to complete necessary steps for their benefits enrollment.
  • Centralized Documents: The platforms allow you to keep all messages and materials in one consolidated place, making it simpler to find and reference needed documents for everything from health plans to voluntary options.
  • Intuitive Navigation: Employee self-service options allow workers to go directly where they need to in the system and complete necessary actions, saving them time and reducing frustration.

With automated systems, you’ll not only ease the burden on your HR staff during the all-important open enrollment process but enable better decision making when workers need it the most.

Complete Payroll Solutions’ technology provides an improved benefit enrollment process to drive satisfaction engagement – and lower tension. To learn about our solution, contact us at 877.253.9020 or for more on how to streamline benefits enrollment, click here.

Complete Payroll Solutions recently added several new staff members in its offices.

Amy Breau, Employee Benefits Account Manager

CPS’ Springfield office recently welcomed Amy Breau as an Employee Benefits Account Manager. In this role, Amy assists clients with benefit renewal strategies, administration and support. She holds a CCA designation as a Certified COBRA Administrator and previously worked for a Third Party Administrator as a COBRA Support Specialist. She also worked for a non-profit organization as a Billing/Claims Specialist in the health insurance industry. Amy attended Springfield Technical Community College and holds an associate’s degree in Health Information Technology.

Casey Corbin, Client Relations Specialist

Casey is now a Client Relations Specialist in CPS’ Springfield office, where she processes payroll and assists clients with any payroll-related issues. She has an extensive background in the financial services industry, working previously at People’s United Bank and as an office manager for a tax attorney. She is currently a senior at Liberty University online majoring in Human Resources.

Terri Dwight, Client Relations Specialist

Terri is a new addition to the Auburn office, where she works as a Client Relations Specialist. In this position, she builds relationships with clients with accurate and timely processing of payroll and the highest level of customer service. Before joining CPS, she worked at Paychex, where she was a Senior Payroll Specialist and then worked in implementation. She also spent six years in the Air Force as a radio technician. Terri received her associate’s degree in Electronics.

Michelle Gagnon, Client Relations Specialist

Michelle Gagnon has joined the Springfield office of CPS as a Client Relations Specialist. In her new role, Michelle works collaboratively with clients to assist them with payroll processing and related issues. Before CPS, she managed payroll and benefits at a wellness company and, previously, worked for ADP. Michelle has a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and has earned the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC).

Holly Jorritsma, Client Relations Supervisor

Holly works in the Auburn office as a Client Relations Supervisor, where she is responsible for building strong client relationships by ensuring responsive service and solutions. She worked at Paychex for 22 years before joining CPS, starting as a Payroll Specialist and most recently serving as a Supervisor. She is currently pursuing a degree in Accounting.

Annette Padrazo, HR Generalist

An HR Generalist, Annette works out of our West Warwick, RI, office, where she communicates with clients needing HR support through the HR hotline, email or by phone. She also assists with recruiting, creating client employee handbooks, client assessments and feedback reports. Previously, she was the HR Administrator at a law firm.

Sharron Prime, Client Relations Specialist

Sharron has joined the Auburn office as a Client Relations Specialist. She is responsible for processing payroll for businesses and addressing any challenges that arise to deliver an exceptional client experience. Previously, she worked at Paychex as a Senior Online Payroll Specialist for four years and in bookkeeping.

Victoria Sikand, Client Relations Specialist

The Springfield office recently welcomed Victoria Sikand as a Client Relations Specialist. In this role, Victoria manages client payrolls, ensures accurate and timely reporting, and answers any payroll-related questions. Before joining CPS, she was a Payroll Administrator for PDS Tech, Inc. Victoria graduated from Holyoke Community College with an associate’s degree in Communications, Media, Theater & Art.


CPS is now approved for grant-funded training for the state of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts’ Workforce Training Fund

The Fund offers two programs: General and Express. While the General Program is open to companies of any size, the Express Program is a fast and easy way to apply for grants for businesses with 100 or fewer employees. If approved for an Express grant, the Workforce Training Fund will reimburse you up to 50% of the actual cost of training from a pre-registered course.

To select a course, the state offers a training directory here. We’re pleased to announce that Complete Payroll Solutions currently has four approved classes you can choose from – with more to follow – that can be held on location at your site:

Effective Communication Skills

Team Building

Managing Change

Effective Recruiting and Hiring

Each course is approximately two hours in length and taught by our certified HR Consultants. Complete our inquiry form for more information on how to apply for Massachusetts Workforce Training Grants and take advantage of these training programs. Contact us at 401-332-9325 if you have any additional questions.

A new final rule issued by the US Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury recently created two new types of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs): the individual coverage HRA and the excepted benefit HRA.

Available for January 1, 2020, plan start dates, these HRAs may be particularly appealing to smaller businesses. That’s because even though they’re funded by the employer, they offer companies more flexibility in their offerings, allowing them to be more competitive with bigger firms. The plans also give employees more control over their healthcare and help them lower expenses, which can boost their satisfaction with their benefits package.

Here’s what you need to know about both of the new HRAs.

  • Individual Coverage HRA: This option allows employers to offer HRAs to pay for employees’ individual health insurance policy premiums, if certain conditions are met. (Currently, many employers are prohibited from offering such HRAs.) In general, the rule permits an HRA to reimburse premiums for individual health insurance policies only if:
    • Individuals verify their enrollment in individual health insurance coverage;
    • The HRA is offered on the same terms to all employees within a class (with limited exceptions);
    • The employer does not offer the same employee both a traditional group health plan and the HRA;
    • Participants can opt-out of the HRA annually; and
    • Employers provide eligible participants with a written notice describing the HRA’s terms and its interaction with the premium tax credit.
  • Excepted Benefit HRA: An employer who offers a traditional group health plan can provide an excepted benefit HRA of up to $1,800 in 2020 (adjustable annually for inflation) to cover the cost of qualified medical expenses like copays, deductibles, or other uncovered costs. The funds can also be used to reimburse premiums for dental and vision coverage that are exempt from Affordable Care Act requirements. Employees can participate in an excepted benefit HRA even if they don’t choose to participate in the employer’s group health plan.

For more information review the HRA FAQs or contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 877.253.9020.

With workers increasingly looking for more frequent feedback, the annual review is becoming a thing of the past in companies of all sizes. What can employers do instead that will engage employees on a regular basis to improve performance and retention? Here are three ways to give employees the continuous comments they want.

  • Real-Time Reactions: Productivity can dip when employees are left wondering how they’re doing or where they could improve. Instead evaluate employees routinely – even informally – to recognize outstanding work that can boost their confidence, identify learning opportunities to help them excel, or address performance concerns before they have a more significant impact on the employee and the business.
  • Dump the Data: Employee self-evaluations – often part of an annual appraisal – can leave workers guessing at how they should answer. And the rating systems used by managers can be equally confusing. Instead of trying to measure performance, try a check in to discuss the employee’s goals and progress toward them. Whether you choose to schedule the dialogue at regular intervals or on a more impromptu basis after, for instance, a big project, the conversations will likely be more revealing than any numerical scale.
  • Invest and Inspire: No one wants to be reminded of a mistake that happened months earlier or find out they’ve been wasting lots of time working in the wrong direction. Rather, look for chances to help workers improve and reinforce desired behaviors as they go. Not only can this approach help employees set goals and develop in the short term, but the added interest in development can advance their careers over time as well.

By investing in open and frequent conversations with employees, they’re likely to feel more valued and engaged – turning the dreaded annual performance review into a performance boost. To learn more about the evolution to this new assessment approach, read the article in Harvard Business Review. For help with optimizing your process, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 401-332-9325.

Anything from unreasonable deadlines and workloads to checking emails after work hours can contribute to employee stress. And it’s on the rise with recent studies like the one from Gallup revealing that 23 percent of full-time employees report feeling burned out at work very often or always.

With burnout causing sick days, reduced productivity, and turnover, it’s important for companies to get a handle on what’s contributing to their employees’ stress and how they can help alleviate it – or risk the impact to your bottom line.

While organizations can still have high expectations, here are five ways to make sure your employees don’t feel overwhelmed.

  1. Be Flexible: If long commutes, family commitments, or other issues outside of work are impacting employees, consider allowing them to work flexible hours or telecommute so they can schedule their time in a way that supports what’s important to them. And be sure to explain your leave policies so employees know their options if they plan to take some time away from the office.
  2. Communicate: Work is the second leading cause of stress so HR and management should invite employees to share their concerns about how their work is affecting them. Then offer ideas for support and explain what resources the company may make available, from fitness classes to an EAP, that can help them address their stress. Or collaborate on other solutions.
  3. Set a Good Example: While you may say it’s important for employees to strike a work-life balance, actions speak louder than words. Set a positive example by going home at a reasonable hour and leaving your work behind, meaning, don’t check email late at night. Talk about your personal interests outside of work. And take vacation days and completely unplug when you do.
  4. Offer Training: Some workers may feel unprepared to do their job well, which can cause anxiety. To help them feel more confident, provide ample opportunities for employees to learn from mentors or through training programs to gain added skills or knowledge. And encourage them to ask for feedback so they can understand exactly where they need to improve.
  5. Manage Well: A bad boss can create a tense environment. As a manager, make sure to avoid unfair treatment or favoritism. Deal with conflicts positively. Foster a supportive workplace rather than a competitive one. Set clear expectations. Offer ways for them to recharge throughout the day. And create a culture where employees want to be at work.

For assistance with stress management in your workplace, review our video above or contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 401-332-9325.

As pressures mount for a national paid family and medical leave (PFML) program, since just 17 percent of private-industry employees had access to PFML last year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, several states have enacted legislation to provide workers compensated time away, with varying levels of benefits. In the Northeast, here’s a summary of the programs in effect – and efforts underway.

  • Connecticut: Legislation passed last month allows employees who work for private employers to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave in a 12-month period to care for themselves or family members starting January 1, 2022. Reasons for leave include: caring for a newborn, newly adopted or foster child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, the employee’s serious health condition, serving as an organ or bone marrow donor or an exigency related to a family member on active duty, or reasons related to family violence. Those who have pregnancy-related complications are eligible for an additional two weeks of paid leave. The benefits are funded by an employee contribution in the amount of .5 percent of their income beginning on January 1, 2021.
  • Maine: In May, Governor Mills signed L.D. 360, which provides that, starting in January 2021, employers with 10 or more workers must provide paid time off, for any reason. Employees accrue one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per year, which they may use after 120 days of employment. Exempt employees include seasonal workers, commission-only employees, and others. The law takes effect January 1, 2021, but the Maine Department of Labor is still in the process of formulating the implementing regulations.
  • Massachusetts: Starting in January 2021, the law provides for 26 weeks of benefits. Twelve weeks are allowed for the arrival of a new child, a close family member’s serious health condition, or a close family member’s deployment needs; 26 weeks can be used for military caregiver leave; and 20 weeks can be used for the worker’s own medical leave. Workers receive up to $850 a week, paid for by a payroll tax on employees and employers with at least 25 workers. Contributions through payroll withholdings begin October 1, 2019, with reporting starting January 31, 2020.
  • New Hampshire: Despite passing the House and Senate, the Granite Caregiving Act, which would have established a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance program funded by an employer tax, was vetoed by Governor Sununu on May 2019. It would have offered 12 weeks of leave at 60 percent of pay.
  • New York: Employees who have worked 26 consecutive weeks as a full-time employee or 175 days as a part-time one for a private employer may be eligible for paid leave to bond with a newly born, adopted or foster child, care for a close relative with a health condition, or assist when a family member is deployed on active military service. For 2019, the amount of leave allowed is 10 weeks at 55 percent of a worker’s average weekly wage, which rises to 12 weeks in 2021 at up to 67 percent of their weekly wage. The benefits are funded by a payroll deduction.
  • Rhode Island: The Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program, part of the Rhode Island Temporary Disability (TDI) program, provides up to four weeks per year of partial wage replacement benefits (about 60 percent). The employee-funded program, paid for through payroll deductions, entitles workers to leave to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent or to bond with a newborn, child, or foster child.
  • Vermont: While Vermont lawmakers advanced a paid family and medical leave bill, in May, Vermont Governor Phil Scott vetoed the program. The bill would have provided for up to 12 weeks of leave for employees at 90 percent of their earnings to care for a new child or six weeks to care for an ill or injured loved one. The benefits would have been funded by a .2 percent payroll tax.

For more information about these requirements and what your business needs to do to comply, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 401-332-9325.

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is fueling efficiency, innovation, and growth at companies. And it’s particularly valuable – and growing – in HR. In one recent global survey, more than half of HR respondents said they’re making use of AI in their functions.

If you’re looking to leverage AI in HR to optimize your hiring process, support decision making, and free up resources, read the article in Cape and Plymouth Business by Karyn Rhodes, VP/Director at Complete Payroll Solutions, about five ways to transform your department.

For more information about the future of HR, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 401.332.9325.